Published on May 29, 2019 |
by Tina Casey
29. May 2019 by Tina Casey
If you blinked, you missed it. An unclear energy company based in Denver has just figured out how to provide land distribution companies with what they want: low-cost renewable energy that knocks out exhaust from old coal-fired power stations. If everything goes according to plan, the maneuver could form the basis for drawing both coal and gas power plants into operation with a faster cut.
Importance of being rural  The power of rural payers is a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to a rural electrification policy dating back to the original New Deal of the 1930s, much of the US landmass gets its electricity through the non-for-profit-owned rural electric co-operative system instead of the for-profit energy companies.
In 2017, nearly 900 electric co-options included 42 million people in the United States, accounting for about 56% of the total land mass. Co-ops serve taxpayers in all but three US states. They also claim territory in 2,500 of the country's 3,141 counties.
Want more? Coop-delivered kilowatt funnel through nearly 13% of the total meter in the United States. Coops account for more than 10% of the total kilowatt hours sold annually, and they own more than 40% of US distribution lines.
Old New Deal, Meet Green New Deal
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association explains the green New Deal ish reasoning that gave rise to the concept of electrification as a social benefit and economic compensation:
As late as in the middle of The 1930s were nine out of 10 rural homes without electrical service. The farmer milked his cows with his hand in the light of a petroleum lantern. His wife was a slave to the woodland and washboard.
The availability of electricity in rural areas kept their economies entirely and exclusively dependent on agriculture. Of course, factories and companies preferred to locate in cities where electricity was easily acquired. For many years, power companies ignored the country's lands.
Oh did they do it or did they? Everything changed after the federal government killed a toe in the electrification water:
The first official act of the federal government pointing to the road to the current rural electrification program came with the transition of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Act in May 1933. This act authorized the TVA Board to construct transmission lines to operate "farms and small villages that are not otherwise supplied with electricity at reasonable prices."
But wait there is more:
By offering safe, affordable and reliable power, many cooperatives are significant economic drivers within their communities.
Co-ops are much more than energy companies: Concern for society is a core principle in the cooperative business model.
Typical cooperative sponsored economic development initiatives include revitalization projects, job creation, improvement of water and sewage systems, and assistance for the delivery of heal
In short, co-ops seek to improve the quality of life of their members and their communities .
If you think, it sounds like a pitch for renewable energy, you can be on something.
Renewable Energy & Rural Electric Coops
With all this in mind, now add one more thought. The US Department of Energy has been working with a group of rural areas to develop a solar heating kit to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
The movement is already underway. A major player is the Wisconsin-based Dairyland Power Cooperative, which earlier in the spring required a total of 149 megawatts of solar cells proposed to Jefferson County.
It's a significant development for Wisconsin that has lagged far behind in the solar race (if you can guess why, drop us a note in the comment thread).
However, electric cooperatives in Michigan are pushing politicians to accommodate solar panels in state agricultural regulations.
The energy department could borrow a hand there too. The Agency is already working with farmers to demonstrate that a properly planned solar panel can benefit crops and livestock while helping to preserve soil and create pollinator habitats.
What stops renewable energy in "real" America?
So, when does the trick of renewable energy activity turn into a flood? From the look of things it can happen right now.
The biggest obstacle is that many rural areas are stuck with the power source their supplier has in hand.
This is where the Denver-based company Guzman Energy comes in.
Never heard of them?
Dennis Web of the Denver Daily Sentinel has the distinguished plan to solve the renewable energy puzzle for rural rural cooperatives: buy the provider. scoop (please follow the link to support local journalism and get many more juicy details):
A Denver-based wholesale company proposes a half-billion dollar deal through which the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association will retire assets in Moffat County and a New Mexico site and shift towards more renewable energy.
Guzman Energy's suggestion would remove almost half of the Tri State's coal-fired power capacity, which had not already been beaten to early closure, with Guzman entering into supplying this power to Tri-State, largely from renewable sources. …
Renewable Energy Revolution is over, now it is just a Mop-Up Operation
So far, Tri-State seems not inclined to thank e Guzman for the offer.
However, Tri-State is already starting to lose by breaking. One of the 43 coops it serves, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, recently purchased its $ 37 million contract.
The goal was to get more renewable energy sources, and Kit Carson hit its renewable energy transition within the coop model:
… only a distribution partnership can deliver reliable, renewable energy to each member at a stable price. Most Taoseños cannot afford to install solar heat on the roof or convert gas heating to the sun. By being a member of the coop, people know that their energy comes from renewable energy sources; in a clean, green future for our children. Simply put, KCEC develops renewable energy sources for all members.
Kit Carson has the ambitious goal of getting 100% solar energy in sunny days in 2020 with the help of guessing which partner? Guzman Energy, that's who. Interesting!
Here is the explanation from Guzman (emphasis added):
Guzman and KCEC came together in July 2016 with the aim of expanding co-opens renewable energy capacity while reducing costs for members. The multi-year deal is expected to bring [$ a $ 70 million cost savings and gives the KCEC the flexibility to choose the energy sources that provide the best cost and environmental benefits to the communities it serves. As a result, KCEC set itself the goal of making the territory one of the "greenest" cooperatives in the country.
A proposal for energy storage project also puts Kit Carson on the road for subsequent renewable energy sources  Guzman has great plans to transfer Kit Carson's renewable energy model to other rural and municipal electricity suppliers. CleanTechnica comes out to see what's in the store, so watch it.
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Picture (screenshot): via Kit Carson Electric Cooperative.